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Watch: Ingenuity Studios’ ‘Black Cake’ VFX Breakdown Reel

The VFX house delivers 700+ shots across all 8 episodes of Season 1 of Hulu’s drama mystery series based on Charmaine Wilkerson's debut novel about a family wrapped in a murder mystery.

Ingenuity Studios served as primary and sole vendor for Hulu’s drama mystery series Black Cake, produced by Two Drifters, Harpo Films, ABC Signature, and Kapital Entertainment and based on Charmaine Wilkerson's debut novel, “Black Cake” about a family drama wrapped in a murder mystery. The studio delivered 700+ shots spanning all eight episodes of Season 1.

The series, set in the late 1960s, takes place in Jamaica, Italy, Scotland, England, and Southern California and follows a runaway bride named Covey who disappears into the surf off the coast of Jamaica and is feared drowned or a fugitive on the run for her husband’s murder. In present-day California, a widow named Eleanor Bennett loses her battle with cancer, leaving her two estranged children, Byron and Benny, a flash drive that holds previously untold stories of her journey from the Caribbean to America. These stories, narrated by Eleanor, shock her children and challenge everything they thought they knew about their family’s origin.

Ingenuity’s work began after principal photography was complete. Working with filmmakers, the studio’s team’s stellar visuals included a hurricane (with its massive crashing waves, storm clouds, and downpour), a train crash shown from within the train car, and period-accurate CG set and location extensions (Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach). Tools used included Nuke, Houdini, RenderMan, Substance Painter, Maya, and Adobe Studio.

“As a studio, we excel at tackling a variety of work across numerous disciplines, which positioned us well to act as the sole vendor for Black Cake,” noted Ingenuity Studios executive VFX supervisor Grant Miller. “We completed numerous set CG and 2.5D set extensions, water sims, pyro, and even CG chickens across 700+ shots. Leveraging Ingenuity as a one-stop shop brought efficiency and streamlined communication to the show, providing continuity across everything from complex VFX work to simpler 2D shots, which serve as a great training ground for newer artists."

The Ingenuity Studios team included president and VFX supervisor David Lebensfeld; executive VFX supervisor Miller; executive vice president Matthew Poliquin; VFX producer Pierceon Bellemare; CG supervisor Lev Hakobyan; 2D supervisor James Kuroda; 2D leads Didier Daza and Stanislav Chernyshev; and tracking supervisor Rebecca McKee.

"We love helping filmmakers do things they couldn’t otherwise capture practically, bringing heightened realism and drama to support masterful storytelling,” said Poliquin, adding, “We always enjoy working with longtime client Marshall Boone, as well as the Kapital Entertainment team.”

Watch Ingenuity Studio’s Breakdown Reel for a glimpse of their VFX magic on Black Cake:

Source: Ingenuity Studios

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.